Organizers: Crocodile in the Schuylkill Won’t Affect Weekend Regatta

Rowers recently spotted a croc in the Schuylkill River. But due to the cold weather this week, it’s likely gone — and wouldn’t be a danger anyway.

The news spread among rowers in emails and on message boards: Someone had spotted a crocodile in the Schuylkill recently. No one seemed to be very concerned about it, as the croc — almost certainly released into the river by an owner — was probably on the other side of the dam as the weather cooled. But people were on alert.

The Head of the Schuylkill Regatta is this weekend, one of the “fall classics” of East Coast rowing. Competitors in masters, open, college and high school divisions compete in “head” or distance races, and have been on this weekend since 1971. (The name dates back to the 1800s, however.) It is Philadelphia’s largest regatta — and, indeed, one of the largest in the country.

I contacted Ellen Carver, president and co-director of the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta, to see if the race was taking any precautions. As so often happens when you’re a reporter who asks a stupid question, I was laughed at. Carver said the croc was about 2 1/2 feet long.

“Yes, there was a crocodile recently spotted,” Carver wrote via email. “According to my sources, he/she was 2 1/2 feet long and more scared of us than we are of him. The cold weather this week will also chase him/her to warmer climate … so, basically, although you made us smile thinking a tiny croc would upstage the more than 8,500 competitors in 1,930 boats at Philadelphia’s largest regatta, there is no need to worry and no precautions necessary. My understanding that the ripples in the water will surely keep him/her away. Far away.”

There you have it. Even if there were any danger, the cold weather this week will have driven the crocodile away from the rowboats. The Head of the Schuylkill should be croc-free this weekend.

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